He’s Mr. Almost Perfect

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Miguel Pinango has pitched well for the Cyclones all year, but he surprised even himself with his performance on Friday night.

The 19-year-old Venezuelan came as close as you can to pitching a no-hitter, yielding a single with two outs in the ninth.

He got the last out of the game on the next pitch, and had to be satisfied with a 10-strikeout, one-hitter — the first complete game in Cyclones history.

“In the end, I have to say I felt good about it,” Pinango said, through his “translator” Ender Chavez. “But there’s a lot of pain there because I let myself get behind [in the count] on a good hitter and he took advantage.”

Catcher Joe Hietpas described it as the best game he’s ever caught. “He was just totally dominating,” said Hietpas, sounding more like a fan than a teammate. “It was exciting to watch. The crowd was going nuts.”

Indeed it was.

“This was an experience I’ll never forget,” said season-ticketholder Pat Witt, who moderates the Cyclones unofficial fan Web site. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more dominating performance by a pitcher in any baseball game I attended.”

And no less an authority than Cyclones announcer Warner Fusselle, who has never called a no-hitter in all his years in broadcasting, said Pinango’s performance ranks as “one of my favorite games ever.”

Let him in!

The Cyclones front office is putting pressure on Baseball’s Hall of Fame to admit Gil Hodges — the Brooklyn Dodgers star and, more important, the managerial genius behind the 1969 “Miracle” Mets — into the hallowed shrine at Cooperstown.

To help promote an online petition drive on the team’s Web site (, Sunday night at Keyspan Park was “Gil Hodges Night.” Members of Hodges’ family, and former teammates, were on hand to recall the former Dodger as worthy of the Hall two different ways.

“By the standards of today, he certainly should be in the Hall as a player,” said Ed “The Glider” Charles, a member of the ’69 Mets. “And as a manager, there was none better. I played under many good ones, but he was the best. His knowledge of the game and respect for the players was second to none.”

Hodges’ 361 career homers puts him behind only Hall of Famer Duke Snider on the Dodgers’ all-time list.

Borough President Marty Markowitz again demonstrated his mastery of the very brief, very fiery political speech by exhorting the crowd to support the petition drive by reminding them that Hodges’ widow Joan still lives in Brooklyn.

The crowd cheered and Markowitz yielded the microphone so that Sandy the Seagull could unveil a banner bearing Hodges’ No. 14, which the Cyclones have retired in his honor.

Not to rain on the Hodges parade, but some fans did remark that it was odd that the first player to be honored with a retired number at Keyspan Park was not even a Cyclone. Could that mean a “Retire Ross Peebles’ Number” campaign is around the corner?

A family affair

Security guard Leo Bocchino was not in his usual position in the Cyclones dugout on Sunday and Monday nights. He got himself transferred to the visitors’ dugout so he could keep a better eye on his son — who was sitting in the visitors’ dugout.

Former Xavarian High School slugger Anthony Bocchino, now a 22-year-old star for the Williamsport Crosscutters, had returned to Brooklyn and his father couldn’t keep his rooting interest secret.

“Hey, every other night I’m rooting for the Cyclones, but I gotta go for the Crosscutte­rs,” the proud father said. “This is a pennant race, after all.” And being on a championship team would, of course, impress his son’s bosses in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization.

Anthony, Xavarian ’98, wasn’t thinking about all that. “It’s just great to be back playing in Brooklyn…even though the fans will probably boo me.” To drown out the catcalls, at least a dozen Bocchino family members cheered from the third-base side.

They were the only ones who relished Bocchino’s performance: Six hits in two games, including a single that broke up Kevin Deaton’s no-hitter in the fifth on Sunday and a 4-4 performance the next night.

‘Total’ bummer

In the latest indication that this year’s Cyclones have lost some of their media buzz, nine members of the team journeyed to Times Square on a rare day off to appear on MTV’s teeny-bopper show “Total Request Live” — but had to share the stage with a handful of Staten Island Yankees.

Last year, a band of hearty Cyclones not only starred on the show, but were interviewed on camera. Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs even stole one of their caps and pronounced the Cyclones “cool.” But this year, the Cyclone players — Jonathan Slack, Corey Ragsdale, Rylie Ogle, Jason Scobie, Joe Jiannetti, Blake Whealy, Bobby Malek, Tim McNab and Chase Lambin — were just window dressing.

“I felt like a true 17-year-old girl,” said Whealy (who, for the record, is 22 and all man). “They tell you when to scream and when to go ‘Oooh.’”

Taking advantage of the day off, outfielder Frank Corr skipped the show to play nine holes at Marine Park with rookie phenom Scott Kazmir — and beat the $2 million man by four strokes, shooting 45. Meanwhile, catcher Jimmy Anderson and his visiting girlfriend saw the new movie, “Signs” and gave it two thumbs down.

“I think Mel Gibson has just done a lot better,” Anderson said. “This is no ‘Braveheart.’”

Wheely Good

The Brooklyn Cyclones Booster Club will raffle off a 1973 Ford Mustang outside Keyspan Park after this season’s final regular season game on Sept. 4. Tickets — $1 each or six for $5 — will benefit the Booster Club’s Coney Island Little League program.

Mets roving scout Gary Carter admired the car on his way into Keyspan Park the other day, so Booster Club secretary Gene Berardelli asked him to autograph the trunk. That signature — and a picture of Carter signing the car for verification — only adds to the classic car’s appeal.

Here & there

Yunior Cabrera, who pitched well in eight outings for the Cyclones, had rotator cuff surgery and is out for the season. New Cyclones include pitchers Adam Elliot (a Mets sixth-round pick this year) and Ryan Danly (a 38th-round pick in 2000) and Aaron Baldiris, up from Kingsport. Also, Joe Jiannetti set a new Cyclones record by extending his hitting streak to 14 games on Tuesday night.

September 2 , 2002 issue  

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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